- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Cormorant standing with its head drawn back and turned to one side; morning glory in background. Ink and colour on silk. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
- 1830-1832 (c.)
Height: 119 centimetres (mount)
Height: 36.50 centimetres (painting)
Width: 69 centimetres (mount)
Width: 55.80 centimetres (painting)
- Curator's comments
The ungainly cormorant stands with its head drawn back and turned to one side so that a large oval eye stares upwards, making the creature seem half demented. A kind of lonely superiority can also perhaps be detected in the bird, as if Hokusai were making it the focus of deeply personal feelings, and it is unusual to find such strong expressive content in normally demure Ukiyo-e paintings. The edge of the folded wing is sharply accented in deep black, and the broken strokes used to suggest the wing and tail feathers have elements in common with 'Cockerel and Chick' (no. 97). A few spiky feathers stick up perkily at the bridge of the beak. The execution of the back feathers is noticeably coarser, however, and not as impressive as the related 'Cormorant on a Rock' in the Okayama Museum (Ota (Hokusai) 1985, no. 556). This has led to suggestions that the British Museum scroll may be the work of a pupil authorised with Hokusai's signature and seal; certainly these are of a standard type for the period c. 1821-33, and the 'Katsushika' seal appears identical with that on the famous 'Seller of Fortune-telling Poems' (no. 100).
Anderson, William, 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1899.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 141.
Clark, Timothy. "Paintings by Hokusai in the British Museum", 'Orientations'. Vol. 21, no. 8 (Aug. 1990), 37-44, fig. 6.
Tokyo-to Bijutsukan (eds), 'Daiei Hakubutsukan hizo Edo bijutsu ten'. Exh. cat., 9 Aug.-24 Sept. 1990, no. 36.
不恰好な鵜が横を向き首をもたげている。上空を睨む大きな卵型の目は、この生き物を半ば狂気に見せている。それと同時に、一種の孤独な崇高さをこの鳥は発しており、北斎は深い個人的感情に焦点をあてたようである。洒落ることが多い肉筆浮世絵には、かくも強い表現的な内容は見出だせない。折り畳まれた羽の縁は濃墨で強調され、羽や尾は割れたような筆使いで描かれる。嘴の端から数本の尖った毛が飛び出している。ただし、背景の処理が見るからに粗く、「巌上鵜図」（林原美術館蔵。永田生慈『葛飾北斎』1985年 太田記念美術館 556図）ほど印象的ではないため、大英博物館は北斎の落款により格上げされた弟子作とも考えられてきた。しかしこれは、文政4年から天保4年頃の典型的な作風であり、「葛し可」印は有名な「歌占図」（No.65）の印と一致する。
'1899. A good example.' (unattributed annotation in the specially interleaved Japanese Study Room copy of Anderson 1886)
The work is light in tone: a quizzical cormorant stands in front of a delicate morning glory. Hokusai’s use of his brush to build up the layers of darker and lighter ink is remarkable. ‘Cormorant on a rock’ (cat. 101) was done in formal (shin) painting style, but here the bird combines semi-cursive (gyō) and cursive (sō) elements of brush styles. In the cursive style, the subject is represented as much as possible by building up planes of colour, avoiding outline. Here, Hokusai does use lines for the face, for the webbing on the cormorant’s feet and for the veins of the morning glory leaves – so strictly speaking this should be classified as semi-cursive style. From the form of the signature, the painting can be dated to about 1830–1832. It bears interesting comparison to the cormorant drawn in cursive style in Manji-ō sōhitsu gafu (1843).(Asano Shugo)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017 6 Oct - 19 Nov, Osaka, Abeno Harukas Art Museum
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1485 (Japanese Painting Number)